Friday, 20 August 2010
Social Media - A Good or Bad Thing?
Are technological advances in media and communication a good or bad thing?
A recent study by Ofcom (the British communications regulator) showed that on average Britons spend seven hours and five minutes a day on media and communications. This figure includes such technology as mobiles, televisions, and computers. Furthermore, we are getting better at multitasking whilst using such technology. We can be watching the TV, whilst browsing Facebook, and receiving and sending text messages.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the effects of such technological advancements on society. Where will it end? How 'interfaced' will we become? Personally, I don't have a Facebook account. I have my laptop, blog, and mobile. Often I will turn my mobile off whilst writing, and I try not to have it in the room whilst we are watching the television. How about you? Would you feel lost without Facebook, Twitter, or your blog? What about your mobile or television? Your ipod or iphone? Your internet connection?
I was quite shocked by how lost I felt without my laptop and, for a day, my internet connection. I felt isolated, even though I was surrounded by friends and family. As technology advances, will we increasingly live our lives online or via our mobiles? What effect will this have on the way younger generations perceive social relationships? Will they lose valuable social skills?
At work yesterday, a colleague made a comment that highlighted one of the concerns I have about social networking sights, such Facebook. I've changed the name, to save any embarrassment.
"I find it quite odd that Fred will speak to me via Facebook, but then ignore me at work. He'll ask how I am and what I'm up to online, but then at work he'll just say hello and turn away and carry on working. He wasn't like that before Facebook."
I find this type of comment worrying, especially as recently a psychologist being interviewed on the news stated that in some younger people there is almost the perception that unless something is on Facebook it hasn't really happened. Is my concern an overreaction? Maybe. What do you think? Here are a couple of quotes to mull over:
'Technology... the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it.' Max Frisch
'The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.' Sydney J. Harris
(You'll be pleased to know that my laptop is back, albeit with a new hard drive and £120 dent in my pocket!)